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  • Coral Study, by Crafts Council Maker Anne Haworth

Research and Policy Brief February 2020

Lots going on at the moment – 

Challenging discrimination

Supporting Diversity and Expertise Development in the Contemporary Craft Economy explores the experiences of makers as women of colour in studios, at craft fairs, and online. The findings derive from interviews conducted by Dr Karen Patel as part of a collaboration between Birmingham City University and the Crafts Council. The project aims to provide insights into the experiences of BAME women makers. The initial findings point to barriers for people in minority groups to become professional makers that are social, cultural and economic.

Dr Patel also blogs about her research here.

The Art World’s Response to the Challenge of Inequality, a London School of Economics report, warns that seeking high visitor numbers through exhibitions by established artists may make it even harder for experimental and minority artists to break through.

Craft participation falls slightly

Craft participation (everyday making) has fallen very slightly over the last year (24% to 23%) in contrast to growth over the previous 3 years. The only areas where there are increases in participation are amongst 65-74 year-olds and people with a long-term illness or disability. The Crafts Council commissions these figures each year from DCMS (see the 5th set of data in the link).

New ministers with links to craft

Oliver Dowden, MP for Hertsmere, is the new Culture Secretary. There are some craft links in the rest of the ministerial teams –

Also –

Tariffs, trade and the economy 

The Crafts Council is responding to a number of government consultations on future trade tariffs, seeking to protect craft materials and goods. The creative industries have set out their priorities for future trade negotiations which include temporary mobility of people and goods, a strong intellectual property regime, regulatory alignment and greater investment.

New DCMS figures show that the creative sector contributed £111.7 billion to the UK economy in 2018, up 7.4% on 2017. Growth in the sector is more than five times larger than growth across the UK economy as a whole. The provisional 2018 figures for craft (see Sub-sectors’ Gross Value Added table 1) show craft has increased from £294m to £300m over the previous year, an increase of 2%. DCMS recognises that these figures are, however, only a partial estimate for craft. The Crafts Council’s Measuring the Craft Economy gives full figures for the value of craft to the UK economy of £3.4bn.

The GLA’s Evidence Base for London's Local Industrial Strategy sets out the rationale for public sector support for the cultural and creative industries in London and shows the wider economic and social benefits generated by the sector. 

Education - news about art-rich schools and lower figures for Creative Arts and Design undergraduate applications

The RSA has reported on arts-rich schools, as part of Learning About Culture, a project gathering better evidence about how schools can focus on arts-based learning. 

Creative Arts and Design undergraduate applications have dipped slightly in 2020 to 214,640 from 215,350 in the previous year. They are at the lowest level since before 2011 (see the UCAS tables here) but are still the fifth most desirable discipline for prospective students. 

A host of new studies on the benefits of participatory arts activities A study on Science Direct shows that participatory art-based activities enhance the well-being and quality of life of patients. Another study on the same site shows how arts-based programming can increase marginalized youth’s participation in the community and that arts-based participatory action research led by migrant youth helps build hope and vision for the future. A study in The Gerontologist considers how arts activities may benefit people living with dementia and proposes a model for social return on investment analysis, a form of cost-benefit analysis, that has the potential to capture the value of arts interventions. 

A study of community engagement and dementia risk in the British Medical Journal suggests that community engagement and particularly cultural activities may reduce the risk of dementia onset. The British Journal of General Practice reports on a study to explore the ways that social prescribing activities may give benefits. The engagement can lead to people learning different ways to relate to other people, becoming open to the possibility of new futures and developing a positive outlook. 

Last but not least - 

Applied Arts Scotland is hosting an international craft symposium 'Old Stories, New Narratives: sustainability, identity and collaboration'. Details are here, including a call for papers with a deadline of 2 March.